CORONAVIRUS

University of Iowa dentistry student tests positive for coronavirus

Student treated one patient while symptomatic

The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa including the Old Capitol Building (center), Macbride Hall (top l
The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa including the Old Capitol Building (center), Macbride Hall (top left), Jessup Hall (bottom left), Schaeffer Hall (top right), and MacLean Hall (bottom right) in an aerial photograph in Iowa City on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — A University of Iowa dentistry student has tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting campus leaders to notify everyone that person had close contact with — including one patient the student saw while symptomatic.

News of the UI-coronavirus patient came Thursday afternoon in a campus message from Interim Director of Student Health Paul Natvig and Campus Health Director Daniel Fick.

“A member of our University of Iowa community has self-identified they tested positive for COVID-19,” according to the message.

The student told his collegiate leadership, who immediately contacted Johnson County Public Health, according to the campus communication.

That student last was on campus at the College of Dentistry on March 12 and does not live in the residence halls. The person — who has not been named or identified in any other way — is in self-isolation off campus.

And everyone the student had close contact with has been identified and notified — including “a single patient seen by the student while the student was symptomatic,” according to the message.

Additionally, the College of Dentistry has communicated with students, faculty and staff and is supporting the student with coronavirus, along with anyone else in the college who needs it.

“The college also disinfects all operatories, etc., after routine protocol for blood-borne pathogens and has intensified these efforts,” according to the campus message.

In sharing news of the positive UI student, administrators said they did so only because that person self-identified. The university won’t be able to report every time a member of its community tests positive going forward, according to the campus communication.

“Please know you do not need to be tested unless you had direct contact with someone who has tested positive and have symptoms,” according to the message, noting symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. “Testing is currently limited.”

Per local, state, and national protocols, the UI message urged anyone who might have been exposed and is experiencing symptoms not to walk into UI Student Health, the UI-based State Hygienic Laboratory, or any other hospital or clinic — including the emergency room.

Instead, they should call or email the Student Health nurseline or a local provider and explain their symptoms.

News of the UI COVID-19 patient comes as the tally of positive cases continues to rise in Iowa and in Johnson County, where the majority of cases are clustered.

Although the UI Hospitals and Clinics have been treating COVID-19 patients, and implementing strict COVID-19-related practices and procedures, Thursday’s announcement marks the first positive case among someone in the UI community.

The UI College of Dentistry in the fall reported 20 graduate students and 334 professional students. The college reports annual patient visits of around 153,000.

Earlier this week, the college canceled all patient visits this week.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

Support our coverage

Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate. Your contribution will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

All donations are tax-deductible.

Support our coverage

Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate. Your contribution will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

All donations are tax-deductible.